Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alito Hearts Westlaw

I haven't had much time to listen to Alito's hearings - I just can't focus on radio and work at the same time, it's not a particularly good skill of mine. I only get the highlights on MPR after work hours (the whole, you donated, I don't remember why, don't you like women and minorities, I do, I just don't remember, thing today made me laugh). Yet, Mean Mr. Mustard (I wish he'd freaking blog - he's all work and no play, lately; it makes him go something something....although I can't really say anything bad about him as he gave me a brand new Marvin the Martian mug after my wife broke my other one...that's friendship) told me that Alito defended his stance on presidential signing statements (Kos link to hearing info) by noting that Westlaw agreed to put them on their systems (I believe those are some Westlaw books positioned behind him in the photo. No lawyer or judge is willing to pose for a photo op without them, even though 99(.99)% of their research is done via the online version).

I'm sorry...that doesn't mean anything. Westlaw is a great company, but if you base your values and your standards on what they put on their systems, then that includes Playboy without the pictures, gardening magazines, mulching magazines, and anything that might have impact on anything, legally, journalistically, and um...researchistically, at any time in any possible instance, anywhere, for any reason. They are not solely a legal company, despite the fact that they once were. They are an information company. They collect information. Good. Bad. Indifferent. Often used. Seldom used. Never used. They are about information management, so if you have information, it is going to end up either in Westlaw or another Thomson system because they are incredibly good at collecting information and that is their business. They don't care about the fact that presidential signing statements are presidential signing statements other than to tag them with the appropriate xml-encoded category, supply several dozen linking/href tags to associated documents, and push them into a database that makes them accessible, for a fee, to lawyers, journalists, students and other paying customers, who care that they are presidential signing statements. It's almost self-referencing...Westlaw cares about all information, therefore they must care about my information, because it's information, so therefore it must be important information, because it's on Westlaw.

I'm sure the same applies to this memo, it just wouldn't have any value-added commentary.

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